Thoughts on Academic Testing During COVID

I address this more from the perspective of learning and less from the perspective of a display of knowledge. If the goal of university is to create good workers, then I believe open note/book is best, as it allows the student to approximate an environment in which they would be performing in an office. My qualm with this is – is this really what university should be for? It certainly has been during my MS and (short beginning of Ph.D) programs. If the student is coming in with the explicit goal of a college degree being to get them a higher paying job than would otherwise have been possible, I think that open book/note quizzes are best for the student. If the student comes in with the explicit goal of learning, regardless of the applicability of that learning to a job, then I believe that close book/note would be better.

At the same time, through COVID, I think that it is rather obvious that cheating has become (more?) rampant, as cheating is far easier on online courses than in person. I believe that open notes/book reduces this cheating enormously, and improves the validity and reliability of the quiz scores.

At the end of the day, I think that the question of being able to use material on a quiz/exam can only be answered in context of the purpose of the course. If the goal of the class is to establish a base of knowledge that the student will need as a foundation for other courses, I think that closed materials is best, as it forces the student to commit the information to memory, thus (hopefully) making this foundation firmer and easier to access in following courses. This is not the goal of all courses, and some courses, I believe, are made better by allowing the student to access materials, as it is unreasonable, or perhaps purposeless, to ask them to memorize certain materials.

On Vaccines

Vaccines save lives – they are not the right choice for each and every person.

I myself am vaccinated, and so is my fiancée, and we each chose to get vaccinated against COVID because it was the right choice for us, given our situations and how we believed the future was going to look. I do not pretend to speak for my fiancée, but the reason that I got the vaccine was because I hate masks, and no other reason than that. It may seem ridiculous, but that is the truth.

As an infant, my parents got me vaccinated against a wide range of diseases, and I am very grateful that they did so. Mumps, Rubella, Dyptheria, Polio – the world is a much better and safer place because these vaccines were made readily available and given to children.

While I encourage people, generally, to get vaccinated against COVID, I believe that mandates to do so, particularly the type of mandates that NYC are enacting that bar people from participating in certain activities are an insult to the sovereignty that each and every American citizen holds.

I believe that vaccination is the right choice, and at the same time, I recognize that neither myself, nor any politician, nor any other American nor any other person on this planet can tell me (or anyone else) what the right choice is for them.

At the end of the day, I believe that the vast majority of American citizens would be better off if they got vaccinated. At the same time, if anyone (especially a politician) thinks that they have the authority or, God forbit, the right to tell someone else what they are required to do, then I encourage all people to seriously contemplate noncompliance.

Make the decision that is best for you and forget about trying to control other people’s lives. It never ends well.